NEW YORK (AP) More than a year after Harvey Weinsteins’ rape conviction, his lawyers are calling for a new trial, arguing in court documents Monday that the landmark #MeToo lawsuit that put him behind bars was backed by inappropriate rulings by a cavalier judge. by protecting the right of disgraced film moguls to a fair trial.
In a 166-page brief filed with a state appeals court, Weinstein’s attorneys have repeatedly targeted Manhattan Judge James Burke, saying he influenced the outcome of the trial with rulings repeated support for prosecutors, including a ruling allowing other accusers to testify on unsuccessful allegations. to criminal charges.
Weinstein’s attorneys also challenged Burke’s refusal to fire a juror who wrote a novel involving predatory older men, as well as his decision to allow prosecutors to call an expert on victim behavior and the myths of the victim to testify. rape while rejecting testimony on similar topics from defense experts.
Mr Weinstein was entitled to a fair trial by an impartial jury, lawyers Barry Kamins, John Leventhal and Diana Fabi-Samson wrote in the brief.
The trial court should have been extremely vigilant to protect this most important right of the defendant, ”they wrote. “Instead, the trial court was cavalier in its obligation to safeguard this right and the consequences for Mr. Weinstein were dire.
Weinstein, 69, was convicted in February 2020 of an indictable sexual act for coercing oral sex on a television and film production assistant in 2006 and for third degree rape for an attack on an actress in grass in 2013.
He was acquitted of first degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault stemming from actor Annabella Sciorras’ allegations of rape testimony in the mid-1990s that his lawyers said Monday was so dated it was it should never have been allowed.
Burke sentenced Weinstein to 23 years in state prison, which his lawyers said on Monday was unduly harsh and excessive. Given his previously clean criminal record, renowned career as an Oscar-winning film producer, and history of charitable giving, Weinsteins’ attorneys argued that he deserved a much lighter sentence.
Weinstein is also accused in California of assaulting five women in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013. His extradition has been delayed due to the pandemic. Weinstein tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after arriving at maximum security Wende Correctional Center near Buffalo last spring.
Weinstein maintains his innocence and maintains that all sexual activity was consensual.
Weinstein’s attorney said at the time of his conviction that he was somewhat flabbergasted by the verdict, but remained cautiously optimistic about his ability to win on appeal. They filed a notice of appeal in April 2020. The arguments are not expected for several months.
A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on Monday’s filing, saying: We will respond in our court brief.
Douglas Wigdor, counsel for several of Weinstein’s accusers, said in a statement the appeal was a desperate attempt to overturn a fair trial overseen by Judge Burke and the findings of a well-reasoned and thoughtful jury. We are confident that the appeal will not alter his conviction and sentence.
In their case, lawyers for Weinstein argued that he had been tried under carnival conditions, “with protesters chanting the rapist outside the courthouse, and that Burke should have acceded to their demands to delay or move the trial, especially after Los Angeles officials broke news of the charges against Weinstein just as jury selection began.
Burke, they wrote, refused to acknowledge any bias that could hurt (Weinstein) either by the charges exposed with great fanfare in California or by the intimidation tactics in and around the courthouse.
The judge’s decision to allow the testimony of three women whose allegations did not lead to charges in the New York case flooded the trial with excessive, random and highly questionable prior wrongdoing evidence.
Rules vary from state to state for calling witnesses to testify about previous wrongdoing outside of actual charges. New York’s rules, shaped by a landmark ruling in a 1901 poisoning case, are among the most restrictive.
In People v Molineux, the highest state court overturned the conviction of a chemist accused of poisoning a rival with cyanide seltzer because prosecutors relied too heavily on evidence suggesting that he had previously poisoned someone else.
Weinstein’s lawyers argued that the additional testimony went beyond describing motive, expediency, intent or a common pattern or plan and essentially put him on trial for crimes he did not was not charged and against whom he had not had the opportunity to defend himself.
Because the evidence on the alleged offenses was weak, the prosecution inundated the jury with numerous stories of alleged misconduct (much of which was not of a criminal nature) that served no legitimate evidentiary purpose, but simply portrayed Weinstein as loathsome, Weinstein’s lawyers wrote.
(Copyright (c) 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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